WWE: 15 Greatest Mic Workers of All Time
With the Great One set to make his in-ring return at the eagerly anticipated Survivor Series pay-per-view, expectations are high from wrestling fans all over the world.
But why is everyone so excited about the Rock's return? Why was the People's Champion so popular in the first place.
It was because of the electricity that the Rock brought to the ring every time he got hold of a microphone.
The Rock could be funny, intense and emotional in the same promo, and he was able to get over because of his mic work and his many catchphrases.
The men that have been able to sell tickets and build interest for wrestling angles using nothing more than a microphone will always be remembered in high regard.
So in light of this, I have decided to compile a top 15 list of the greatest talkers in the history of the wrestling business.
John Cena: Although the current face of the WWE is often corny and immature with his jokes and taunts, there is no denying that the man is charismatic. He possesses the rare ability to be able to whip a crowd up into a frenzy with a unique passion and intensity.
The Miz: The Miz has not been considered a main event talent for very long in the WWE but he has excelled himself on the mic for the duration of his push. The Miz can verbally spar with the best of them, and by the end of his wrestling career, he may well have earned himself a place higher on this list.
Jim Cornette: Cornette's famous "hairdryer treatment" was the end product for talent that did not live up to his very high standards. As a manager, he used his motormouth to great effect elevating talent such as the Midnight Express and Owen Hart to great success in the 80s and 90s.
Mr. Perfect: Hennig managed to become one of the leading heels in the business when he was the Intercontinental Champion, and this was largely due to his mic skills. The WWF had such faith in his talking ability that they gave him a place on the Primetime panel alongside Bobby Heenan.
Edge: The "Rated R Superstar" was much better on the mic as a heel, as so many are, and his many promos during his feud with Undertaker in particular will stand the test of time. Edge was surprisingly good at making the fans hate him.
Ted DiBiase Sr.: The Million Dollar Man was an incredibly convincing character and DiBiase's smooth talking style and natural air of superiority helped him pull it off.
Triple H: The Triple H character is an exaggerated version of who Paul Levesque is, and he can therefore express himself and make his points naturally. He has also made the seamless transition from comedy character with DX to monster heel during the McMahon-Helmsley era.
Raven: An ECW original who has also made a name for himself in WCW, WWE and TNA, Raven's supreme intellect was evident every time he spoke, and his eerie promos helped to make his character that much more convincing.
Shawn Michaels: Particularly later in his career, HBK cut some memorable promos, and it was always evident that he had charisma and a natural ability to run his mouth. Some of his shoot promos on Bret Hart are very topical at the moment with the release of the new DVD that documents this legendary rivalry.
Michael PS Hayes: The "Fabulous Freebird" was arrogant and self-centred to the last degree, and his mic skills helped him to come off as even more obnoxious.
Jerry "the King" Lawler: The current Raw colour commentator was once a top heel in the WWF feuding with the likes of Bret Hart. He also went on to carve a reputation for himself as one of the greatest heel announcers in history, never at a loss for words.
Hulk Hogan: The "Hulkster's" promos were never well thought out, but when he told the kids to "say their prayers, do their training and eat their vitamins," he was fulfilling his role as a role model. Hogan's charisma was off the charts, and when he spoke, everyone listened.
Brian Pillman: The Canadian wild card was incredibly convincing at portraying his "Loose Cannon" persona, and a series of intense shoot promos are clear evidence of that.
15. Arn Anderson
One of the most underrated wrestlers of all time was a key "Four Horsemen" member, the "Enforcer," Arn Anderson.
Anderson constantly performed in the shadow of Ric Flair, but fans who saw him cut a promo know that this man had the potential to be a much bigger star than he ever was.
Passion, believability, intensity and aggression were the hallmarks of an Anderson promo, and the young WWE talent of today would do well to take advice from the future Hall of Famer who currently works as a road agent at Titan Towers.
14. Terry Funk
Few spoke with as much intensity or passion as the original Hardcore Legend and Mick Foley's mentor Terry Funk.
Funk came from one of the greatest wrestling families of all time, and he had learned his craft at the knees of some of the greats.
Funk's stiff wrestling style combined with the mad look in his eye while delivering promos made him a huge star in the WWF, ECW and the NWA.
Funk was very convincing at portraying a madman and was known for putting his heart and soul into promos.
His feud with Ric Flair in the old NWA will go down as one of the greatest rivalries of all time.
13. Paul Heyman
Paul E. Dangerously managed the Midnight Express, Stunning Steve Austin, Adrian Adonis and Don Muraco back in the day, but he is perhaps better remembered for his creation of the ECW brand.
In recent times, Heyman demonstrated his skills as a manager with the nurturing of Brock Lesnar, the "Next Big Thing."
Heyman's reputation preceded him, and the heat that he received was transferred to Lesnar, who was quickly established as a monster heel in the WWE and a legitimate main event player.
Heyman's skills as a manager came about almost directly due to his incredible gift of the gab.
While the founder of ECW will never be remembered as a competent businessman, he was always a tremendously entertaining on-screen character.
12. "Macho Man" Randy Savage
Few men in the wrestling business have been more iconic, entertaining and colourful than the "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
His distinctive voice made him an obvious choice as the star of the legendary "Slim Jim" commercials that made Savage's name synonymous with pop culture.
His heel promos as the Intercontinental Champion first brought Savage to the light as a major singles star.
A large part of the success of the Hogan-Savage feud was down to the intensity that the "Macho Man" showed on the microphone.
It was his natural charisma and clear mic skills that led to him becoming a valued member of the announce team in the twilight of his WWF career.
11. Vince McMahon
Mr McMahon has always been such a convincing on-screen character because the evil billionaire that he portrays is basically just an extension of Vince McMahon's actual personality.
However, the Chairman was always incredible at overacting and taking his "corrupt boss" gimmick to the next level.
Some of his mic work in the feud with Austin stands the test of time, and there were many notable McMahon promos throughout the "Attitude Era."
The two that stand out for me are the "Life sucks and then you die!" speech as well as when he introduced the NWO into the WWE, stating that he was going to "kill his creation."
10. CM Punk
CM Punk has restored wrestling's mainstream popularity and made the WWE a trending topic on all the major social networking sites including Twitter and Facebook.
He has done this by speaking his mind and delivering a worked shoot that Steve Austin described on Twitter as "scorching hot promo...delivery, content and attitude...one of the best promos I've ever seen."
In this promo, Punk detailed why he was the best in the world and cited the fact that he constantly proved it on the microphone and in the ring.
The wrestling world is hanging on Punk's every word, and there is no doubt that he speaks the truth when he describes himself as the "best in the world."
Punk first established himself as a great mic worker with WWE in his captivating feud with Jeff Hardy that produced some of the best matches of 2009.
He went on to lead the "Straight Edge Society," whose segments were always the highlight of SmackDown and the "New Nexus."
No man in wrestling today can claim to be as unmissable as Punk, who is always entertaining and when he talks, everyone listens.
9. Mick Foley
Foley brought intelligence and feeling to his promos, and they never failed to engage a crowd.
Foley provided us with so many classic moments during the days of the Rock N Sock Connection but was also skilled at more serious promos.
His rivalries with Ric Flair in the WWE and TNA have produced the most intense and emotional promos that I have ever witnessed, and it is all the more real considering the legitimate personal issues that Flair and Foley have had in the past.
His "Cane Dewey" promo in ECW will never be forgotten by the fans that witnessed it, and those who have read Foley's books will know that he always dug deep to find a real personal issue that would make his promos that much more memorable.
Foley's key skill on the mic was his ability to make the audience empathise with whatever problem he faced.
8. Dusty Rhodes
Dusty Rhodes was one of the most popular wrestlers of his era, and his classic feuds with Ric Flair characterized what the NWA was all about.
He represented the common people, and although he did not resemble an elite athlete in any shape or form, but he was able to get over with the sheer emotion of his promos.
His "hard times" promo after coming back from injury will go down as one of the most heartfelt speeches in wrestling history.
The way he reached out and appealed to the people and made it clear that he was going to win the World Heavyweight Championship for the people was inspirational.
It was very obvious why the "American Dream" received such adulation from the adoring fans.
7. Chris Jericho
One of the best promo men of the modern era, Jericho was able to hold his own in verbal showdowns with Austin and the Rock and delivered a highly memorable promo on his WWF debut by interrupting the Rock.
Jericho was also the highlight of the WCW Cruiserweight Division providing comedy in abundance and Y2J never had problems making people laugh.
But it was the more psychotic and sadistic incarnation of his character that brought out the best in Jericho.
Jericho was the top heel in the WWE from 2008-2010 and provided some extremely entertaining feuds with Shawn Michaels in particular.
The arrogance and the narcissism that he was trying to portray was extremely convincing.
6. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin is the face of the Attitude Era and achieved higher pay-per-view buy rates and television ratings than any other champion in WWE history.
But there were two separate promos that transformed the career of Steve Austin from Ted DiBiase's lackey to the most popular wrestler of all time.
Days after being ignominiously fired from WCW by Eric Bischoff, Paul Heyman gave Austin a microphone in ECW and told him to speak his mind.
What followed was the promo that changed Austin's career and put him on the pro wrestling map. Austin's time in ECW was ultimately short-lived, but it was this single promo that first attracted Vince McMahon to the intense Texan.
The second and perhaps more famous of the two promos was where Austin coined one of the most successful catchphrases in wrestling history in terms of merchandise sales.
Austin 3:16 was a catalyst in elevating him to main event status and eventually superstardom.
He would excel on the mic for the rest of his career.
Every diehard wrestling fan loves and remembers the intense believability of Stone Cold Steve Austin's promos, particularly "Austin 3:16."
But in much the same way that Randy "Macho Man" Savage was The Rock before The Rock, Jake Roberts was an earlier incarnation of Stone Cold.
Roberts also portrayed a rebel that was anti-establishment, and he pioneered the concept of the anti-hero in professional wrestling before Austin broke into the business.
His many promos and interviews always appeared real and natural, which was essential in a world where the business was viewed as reality.
He had a unique way of expressing himself, and he could get himself over as a "bona fide sicko," in the words of Gene Okerlund, with surprising and disturbing ease.
Every feud that he was involved in seemed important and was impossible to look away from.
Andre the Giant, Ted DiBiase, Randy Savage and Rick Rude were all involved in memorable feuds with the Snake that produced countless unforgettable moments
Hilariously funny, outrageously biased and financially corrupt, there is only one man that can be called the greatest manager that ever lived.
His name was Bobby Heenan, and he was a feature in many of the main storylines of the 1980s.
The group of wrestlers that he took under his wing was known as the Heenan Family, and they acted as a stable looking out for the interests of each other under the direction of the "Brain."
Heenan's back and forths with his good friend and on-air enemy Gorilla Monsoon on Primetime Wrestling are legendary and make for entertaining viewing on YouTube.
Heenan's ability to run his mouth, both on commentary and in backstage interviews, surpassed anyone that had ever gone before him.
No-one in wrestling history has been more quick-witted than Heenan who could make you laugh in a heartbeat.
3. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Hulk Hogan's greatest ever rival, the man that was given his very own talk show, arguably one of the greatest heels of all time!
Roddy Piper was given a chance to shine in Piper's Pit, the interview segment where he would invite a whole host of guests and question them.
Piper's Pit inspired so many talk shows in WWE such as the Heartbreak Hotel, the Barbershop and the Highlight Reel, but it was the original that yielded so many classic moments.
He delivered so many classic promos during his feud with Hogan in the build-up to the inaugural WrestleMania, but it was a WCW promo that will go down as one of Piper's greatest.
A contender for the best promo ever, Piper would debut in WCW by interrupting Hollywood Hulk Hogan after a pay-per-view victory with the NWO.
Piper said that the only reason the fans loved the Hulkster so much was because they hated him so much!
Delivered in his familiar rasping tones, it epitomised the reasons that the Hot Rod will go down as one of the all-time greats!
2. The Rock
The most electrifying man in sports entertainment...the People's Champion...the Great One!
Probably the most charismatic wrestler in the history of the business, the Rock has been able to fashion himself a hugely successful Hollywood career off the back of his time in the ring.
The reason being that whenever the Rock got hold of a microphone, everyone knew something special was about to happen.
There has never been a more natural promo man than the Rock, and he would have surpassed Ric Flair if he had continued his career as a wrestler.
But the fact remains that the Rock achieved more in four full-time years with the WWE than most wrestlers achieve in their whole careers.
Rock was talented in the ring, but it was his natural charisma and ability to run his mouth in whichever scenario he was presented with that made him stand out.
Who can forget the great back and forths with Austin or the comedy segments with Mankind?
Whether as a heel or a face, the Rock always brought it on the mic!
1. Ric Flair
Ric Flair revolutionized the wrestling business in so many ways. He formed the first-ever wrestling stable in the legendary Four Horsemen, and he was the first wrestler to strut his stuff so effectively on the microphone.
In the NWA, Flair would give so many iconic interviews, coining so many timeless catchphrases and paving the way for the future stars such as The Rock to follow in his footsteps.
This was Flair in his prime feuding against such legends as Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Sting. These rivalries were well-constructed, and Flair's interviews added so much.
Well-known Flair trademarks such as "To be the man, you gotta beat the man" and "Shut up, fat boy!" came about at this time, and this was also when the Nature Boy cemented his legacy with numerous World Title reigns.
Flair would go on to deliver various memorable promos in WCW, WWE and even TNA. My personal favorites from each company would be the worked shoot promo on Eric Bischoff, the tirade at Carlito and the spat with Jay Lethal on iMPACT.
In the words of Triple H at the 2008 Hall of Fame ceremony, "before there was a "trailblazing, eyebrow-raising People's Champion, there was a "wheeler-dealing, kiss-stealing, jet-flying, limousine-riding son of a gun!"